On a warm summer's day, there's nothing quite like the sound of a pedal steel guitar trailing on the breeze. There's such a dreamy, captivating quality to its waves of rolling twang. Lucky for those of us unfamiliar with the hidden courtyard downtown at 2 Union Square, finding Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers yesterday for their "Out To Lunch" concert was as easy as following the wind.
I arrived and Muth was a few songs into the set, playing to a lounging, lunch hour crowd scattered around the stage on concrete steps and giant ornamental rocks surrounding the courtyard. Muth delivered her self-called "bar room drama" songs with a warm alto and an easy, elegant twang, her confident vocals unwavering. Her 5-piece band complimented the country sound with subtle harmonies and rich reverb, especially lead guitarist Dave Harmonson, who showed his chops on electric and pedal steel guitar with an expressive, honky-tonk style.
The band played selections off their new album, "Starlight Hotel," and performed a few songs by Muth's influences, notably "Heart Like a Wheel" by singer-songwriters Kate and Anna McGarrigle and an old-timey Dock Boggs cover. It was Americana at its finest: string-fueled, easy-metered country in clear view of its influences, with Muth's original songs and bell-clear twang rockin' enough to stand on its own. I picked up a CD during the last song right before 1:30 and left to finish my afternoon, hungry for lunch and another earful of Muth's luscious alt-country.
For fans of: Neko Case, Shelby Earl, Emmylou Harris.
The scene: Mellow, laid-back, downtown Seattle lunch hour crowd: suits, tourists, curious passers-by, a few families with roaming toddlers.